Breton Striped Shirts
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The origins of the Saint James Breton striped shirt
The Breton striped shirt is now over 150 years old and still proudly sports its horizontal stripes.
In 1858, a military ordinance made the Breton striped shirt one of the pieces of the official uniform of the French Navy. This uniform also includes sailor pants, a white shirt with a blue collar, a hat with a pompom, and a short woolen cloth coat, which will become the famous pea coat.
The Breton striped shirt then meets rigorous specifications. The number of stripes and their dimensions are precisely defined: on the body of the striped shirt, there must be 21 white stripes, each measuring 20 mm wide, and 20 to 21 blue stripes 10 mm wide. On the sleeves, the white stripes must be 15 in number, for 14 to 15 blue stripes.
The sleeves should not be too long to avoid protruding from the jacket, and the neckline should come up to the crew neck.
Saint James stripes, a signature
Today, stripes have not disappeared from sailor tops and meet the brand's unique specifications: the stripe pattern is 16 mm / 8 mm and constitutes the Saint James signature. They are now available in several colors.
Their symbolism has evolved enormously. While striped clothing was originally reserved for convicts and prisoners, their adoption by the French Navy has helped rehabilitate them.
Yet no one really knows why sailors adopted a striped uniform. According to some, the contrasting blue and white stripes made it easier to spot a man who had fallen overboard. It is also said that the 21 stripes then symbolized the number of Napoleonic victories.
Other versions claim that because indigo was expensive, striped tops were made in alternating white and blue for economy, or blue was introduced to compensate for the messy appearance of white.
Regardless, these stripes have gradually been adopted by fishermen and boaters before seducing the greatest couturiers such as Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Jean-Paul Gaultier, or Karl Lagerfeld. They all revisited the codes of the marinière in their fashion shows.
The secrets of making Saint James Breton striped tops
The women's stripe tops are made with the highest standards, thanks to the human know-how of the seamstresses.
The iconic Naval striped top for women requires no less than 4,400 yards of cotton yarn, made from 104 cotton flowers. It takes five days of work to make this pattern, from knitting to the finished striped sweater. It has 16 blue stripes on the body and 13 on the sleeves.
Eleven manufacturing steps are required, including cutting the cotton panels, assembling the various pieces of the top, picketing, overlocking, covering, and affixing the labels and logo.
The women's Breton striped shirts are then subjected to quality control before being ironed, packaged, and shipped to customers worldwide.
How to wear a Breton striped shirt?
The Breton striped shirt is the essential piece for a casual-chic style, suitable for the office and relaxation. It goes with all the basics and can be worn with jeans and trainers or a skirt and heals.
The Saint James women's sailor top can be paired with a blazer and boyfriend jeans, tucked in to highlight the waist and hips. It is a perfect replacement for a white shirt in a pantsuit and can also be worn with loose pants and high heels for a more chic and dressy style.
The Breton striped shirt is perfect on a skater skirt or slipped under denim overalls for a resolutely vintage yet modern look. Today, the trend is to combine prints. For an outfit full of character, mix the stripes of the sailor top with a jacket or skirt's floral or graphic patterns.